$50 ODROID-C4 Raspberry Pi 4 Competitor Combines Amlogic S905X3 SoC with 4GB RAM

Hardkernel has just launched an update to its ODROID-C2 board, with ODROID-C4 SBC equipped with a 2.0 GHz Amlogic S905X3 quad-core Cortex-A55 processor combined with up to 4GB RAM, four USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI 2.0 video output, and the usual 40-pin I/O header.

That makes it a worthy competitor to Raspberry Pi 4 with 4GB RAM, especially since it supports Ubuntu 20.04, CoreELEC, Android 9, and LineageOS operating systems, and comes with a proper heatsink for cooling for just $50 plus shipping.

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ODROID-C4 specifications:

  • SoC – Amlogic S905X3 quad-core Cortex-A55 processor @ 2.0GHz with Arm Mali-G31MP2 GPU supporting OpenGL ES 3.2, Vulkan 1.0 and OpenCL 2.0
  • System Memory – 4GB DDR4
  • Storage
    • 1x eMMC connector (8/16/32/64GB modules available)
    • 1x Micro SD slot with support for DS/HS mode up to UHS-I SDR104
  • Video & Output – HDMI 2.0 port up to [email protected] with HDR, CEC, EDID
  • Audio – Digital audio via HDMI, optional SPDIF optical output, audio expansion header (See below)
  • Video
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet port via Realtek RTL8211F; optional WiFi with USB dongle
  • USB – 4x USB 3.0 host ports, 1x USB 2.0 OTG port for host or device mode (not for power input)
  • Expansion
    • 40-pin I/O header with up to 25x GPIO, 6x PWM, 2x ADC (12-bit, 1.8V max), 2x I2C, 1x SPI, 1x UART, and 5V, 3.3V, 1.8V, GND power signals.
    • 7-pin audio expansion header with I2C  S/PDIF output, 5V DC
    • Note all I/Os are 3.3V, except ADC @ 1.8V max
  • Debugging – Debug serial console (UART)
  • Misc – IR receiver, system LEDs for power (Red) and kernel status (Blue)
  • Power Supply – 5.5V to 17V via 5.5/2.1mm DC jack; DC 12V/2A power adaptor is recommended
  • Power consumption – Idle: ~1.8W; CPU stress: ~3.64W with Performance governor; power off: ~0.14W
  • Dimensions – 85 x 56mm
  • Weight – 59 grams with heatsink
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You’ll find documentation in the Wiki.

Compared to ODROID-C2, the new ODROID-C4 is significantly more efficient, while delivering a 40% boost to multi-core CPU performance, and 50% higher DRAM bandwidth which may be especially useful for graphics and video playback, or other applications moving lots of data.

The Cortex-A55 core used in Amlogic S905X3 is supposed to be a power-efficient processor that’s not quite as powerful as the Cortex-A72 core found in Raspberry Pi 4. But this is mostly compensated by a higher default CPU frequency (1.5 GHz vs 2.0 GHz) as shown in some benchmarks shared by Hardkernel in the announcement post.

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Both boards have about the same performance with the real-life 7-zip benchmark, but we can see a much higher RAM bandwidth for ODROID-C4. I assume they added a heatsink to the Raspberry Pi 4 board or that would not be a fair comparison since it tends to overheat under load.  It should also be noted Raspberry Pi 4 can be overclocked to 2.0+ GHz with proper cooling, which in that case would be quite faster than ODROID-C4 in most workloads.

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One exemption being applications making heavy use of crypto functions, since Broadcom BCM2711 processor found in Raspberry Pi 4 does not come with Armv8 crypto extension, and for example, ODROID-C4 is around 7 times faster with SHA256 8KB hash. ODROID-C4 consumes quite a lot less power as well.

Besides benchmarks and power consumption, the boards also differ in terms of features. For example, Raspberry Pi 4 offers dual HDMI output and built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, while ODROID-C4 comes with a single HDMI port, and WiFi/Bt is optional via a USB dongle. On the other hand, ODROID-C4 comes with four USB 3.0 ports, and offers support for eMMC flash module, while RPi 4 features 2x USB 3.0 + 2x USB 2.0 ports, and does not offer an eMMC option.

ODROID-C4 should have similar performance to Khadas VIM3L SBC which comes with Amlogic S905D3 processor, but is offered at a higher price ($70+) due to extra built-in features such on-chip NPU, STM8 control MCU, built-in WiFI and Bluetooth, eMMC flash soldered on the board and so on.

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